Author Interview on Facebook! Join in!

Author Interview on Facebook! Join in!

https://www.facebook.com/events/287455714745736/?ref=22&source=1

Hello friends!

Please join me this Sunday night, 3/30, @ 6pm for a Facebook ‘Spotlight’ interview to discuss my debut novel “Secret Agent of God”. Please click ‘Going’ if you might be able to attend online.

The novel is a spiritual thriller about a young woman named Janice Morrison who uses her prophetic abilities to thwarts a terrorist attack on US soil. According to fans, ‘Secret’ is a very fast read, with oddly enough, humor and a touch of romance. Janice has some interesting character flaws including her attempts to get a handle on her potty mouth and a tendency to fall for the wrong sort of guys. Janice’s life is pretty much a train wreck but she manages to find humor in it. A ‘catholic in progress’, Janice’s underlying faith struggle is the novel’s major theme.

Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope to hear from you Sunday night!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Agent-God-Eileen-Slovak-ebook/dp/B00IDEI76Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396117102&sr=8-1&keywords=eileen+slovak

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Novel Acknowledgements

Thank you!

Grazie!

شكرا

¡gracias

谢谢

σας ευχαριστώ

ありがとう

merci!

The bulk of the work of writing takes place in a solitary room. It happens between a writer and his or her computer. However, even for Indie writers, creating a finished product, producing a physical novel from the ramblings of the mind is not really a solo act.

Editors, proofreader’s, cover designers, interior layout designers, writers groups, beta readers, family and friends all contribute to the process. Although, those who put up with the most, often receive the least amount of gratitude. For example, the family members who endure the last-minute thrown together dinners because the words were flowing or tolerate the mood swings when characters are not cooperating. And the friends who read the early and not so great versions of our work, but still offer honest feedback, while remaining supportive.

So, to my entire support network: Thank you! Here is a glimpse of the Acknowledgement page of “Secret Agent of God”:

Secret Agent of God

Secret Agent of God

 

There is every possibility, I will have forgotten to thank someone. Please know that this is not intentional. There is also a real possibility, that I might thank someone who will never even read my book. Some of my very best friends don’t follow my blog, or my twitter feed, and do not even have Facebook accounts. That’s OK, they have my back and for that I am forever grateful.

Oh and by the way, the first person to like this blog post on http://www.wordpress.com, will receive a free, signed copy of my new novel. It only seems fitting, since this is where my public writing journey began, to say thank you with a gift.

Thanks for reading!

 

Third Time is a Charmer

In 2012, I attended my first writer’s conference. Although, at the time, I had already been writing for years. Walking in that first day, I was certain that at that point in time, I was ready to become a published writer. Turns out, I wasn’t.

An agent was kind enough to review my work, but I was devastated when she said I was likely a year away from being ready. Another year, I thought. I’ll never make it. Alas, after many more hours of writing and after completing multiple rewrites, just shy of two years later, I emerged with a completely different manuscript.

I just published my ‘first’ novel, “Secret Agent of God”. 

Image

“Secret Agent of God”

 

I say ‘first’, but what I mean is third, because the other two never saw the light of day. My real ‘first’ novel, the one I attempted to write about twenty-five years ago, was a summery love story. From what I can recall, it was along the lines of Snooky’s book about the Jersey Shore, but mine was about a little known island called Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island. I think I still have the story in a shoebox somewhere. It was hand-written on an assortment of cocktail napkins and in several beer-stained, spiral notebooks.

My second novel was another lovelorn tale about a single working gal, who was very similar to my former single-self, but in a fictional setting. Said ‘gal’ tried desperately not to fall in love with a very attractive private detective who had just breezed into town. YAWN. Sixty-five thousand words into the manuscript and after (I’m too embarrassed to say how many years), I decided the story was not unique enough to publish.

What’s the moral of this story? Both of these writing exercises helped me to become a better writer and more importantly, they made me realize some things. I don’t really like writing romance unless it’s wrapped in another package like paranormal suspense. Furthermore, if my life were exciting enough to read about, I wouldn’t need to write fiction. Finally, it takes as long as it takes. While deadlines are important, you need patience to become a writer.

In my first published novel, I created a protagonist who is nothing like me, threw her into a crazy situation and viola! I wrote a fast-paced thriller, with a strong female protagonist who is quirky, upbeat and funny despite her bleak circumstances. I almost feel badly about everything I put poor twenty-one-year-old Janice Morrison through, but I’m confident that she can handle it. She is ‘spiritually challenged’ but remarkably resourceful.

The weird thing is, I keep thinking, that someday I’ll be signing books in a mall somewhere and Janice will walk right up to me and say, “Hey, you stole my life!”

Now wouldn’t that be something?

 

Query Letters: Quantity or Quality?

I met a writer at a conference who said he sent 300 query letters before self-publishing.  I read some of his work, he is a good writer; but is writing 300 query letters a good strategy?  Based on my research over the past several years, I would say that quality is always better than quantity.

This may even be the motto of my life.

I am not an expert on writing query letters, but I have found some:

http://www.facebook.com/agent.rachelle

True confessions time!

After researching Agencies, http://www.agentquery.com/  I sent three letters for my first novel Seeing Scarlet before beginning yet another round of rewrites.  The rewrites are my decision, because I know I can better.   Of the three letters sent, I received one request for a full manuscript.  Not bad odds.

For my second, not quite completed novel, I sent one letter and received a very nice rejection.  By that, I mean, several paragraphs, which were both encouraging and offered an explanation about why she could not take on the novel.

What is the consensus?  What do they want?

Send it to the right agent, someone who represents your genre and is actively seeking new authors.

No typos or grammatical errors.

  • If your letter is boring, the assumption is that your novel will be as well.
  • Brevity: agents are busy.
  • No gimmicks, but a good hook doe not hurt.
  • Answer the question:  what is your story and why are you qualified to write it?

If you think have ever been in involved in a job search and who hasn’t, it’s not unlike writing a cover letter, if yours stinks, no one will read your résumé or your novel in this case, no matter how great it is.

Oh, and most importantly, double-check the spelling of the name of the Agency and Agent.  They say this actually happens, but it won’t get you very far.

#Putting Some Win in Your Sales

Question for the week:  Can you sell your words without selling your soul?

If you directly show the desire to sell something or worse, call yourself a Salesperson, can you escape negative connotations? 

Slimy Salesman Image

The word Salesman calls to mind images of polyester leisure suits, used cars and telemarketers hawking something you don’t want, refusing to take no for an answer.

Funny how words work.  The alternate spelling of the word, sails, invokes much lovelier imagery:

Croatia Yacht Charter Sailing Catamarans

Is sales really such a dirty word?  As consumer’s we like to buy things.  So, are salespeople villains?

Is it because it seems so desperate to have to ask, “would you like to buy this?”

Or is it because we like to kid ourselves that we are not being sold to every minute of every day?

As Authors, we shudder at the thought of having to sell our books; it’s not just about book signings and readings anymore, subtle selling events.  At the mere suggestion of promotion, we cry out:  “I thought the Publisher did the selling?”  Maybe once upon a time, when Agents were more like Fairy Godmothers.

Fairy Godmother

The selling starts long before the story is even printed.  First, we have sell our manuscript to an Agent, then it’s (hopefully) sold to an Editor and Publisher.  If we are fortunate enough to find success, the expectation remains, we will do our part literally, to get the word out about our book and sell it to the public.

Even with twelve years in Sales and Marketing experience under my belt, it took a long time to come to terms with this fact.  I thought I’d escape selling by becoming a writer.  The jokes on me!

As a salesperson I preferred to view my job as educating people on a quality product.  I chose to offer a service or fulfilled a need.  Of course, in doing so, I was in fact, selling something. My sales improved when customers viewed me as likable or better yet, as possessing a sense of humor.

Can selling a book be so different from selling some other type of product?  How do you make yours the one people want to buy like some of the blogs turned books that sky rocketed to success:  Author Julie Powell’s, “Julie and Julia” or “Fifty Shades of Grey”, by E.L. James.

“Julie and Julia”, by Julie Powell, (Little, Brown)

With  416, 039 bloggers just on WordPress alone, and how many are seeking book deals, has this ship already sailed?

Okay writers, time to get creative!

In Writer’s Digest, September 2012 issue, Author, Laura DiSilverio used Pinterest to show the items in her character Gigi Goldman’s wardrobe, to promote her book.  Clever.

At the Unicorn Writers Conference, self published Author, Joseph J.   Bradley handed out bookmarks instead of cards, which included the book cover, a brief plot synopsis and all of his pertinent information.  Smart.

Candace Knoebel, a blogger/Author I discovered here on WordPress.com, produced a book trailer for the release of her new book, “Born in Flames”.  Inventive.

http://www.youtube.com/watchv=bu5qbaMXxh0&feature=share

I love this idea.  For me, writing is visual.

Small businesses have used t-shirts, magnets, direct mail campaigns, pens, pencils, golf balls and ball caps among other things to help promote their businesses for years.  Maybe your character likes to play golf?

Over the summer, I saw an airplane banner advertising wine.  It did make me a little thirsty.

Airplane banner

Skywriting would work, after all, it was a big hit for the Wicked Witch Of The West.

Skywriting Spells Out, “You Didn’t Fail”.

Writing the book it seems is only half the battle.  The challenge is before us to seek out  the next best way to sell our work without sacrificing integrity.

For now, my mission is to finish writing what I hope will be a quality novel that might fulfill a need to read, with hope that readers will find my characters likable and maybe even entertaining.

Thanks for reading and keep writing!

Echoes of the Silent Response

Thought for the week:  When seeking support, accept surprises, avoid obstacles and don’t always discount strangers.

Aside from other writers, I seek support and opinions on my writing from family, friends and acquaintances.  Interestingly, some of the most reliable feedback comes from acquaintances, not from my nearest and dearest.  Why?   I suspect the people who care about me, sugar coat their responses out of kindness.  I understand.  It’s hard to negatively criticize someone you like.

When analyzing feedback, I try to focus on common threads, tossing aside any commentary that falls too far to the extremes.  Good news always comes first.

“Great character, send more!”

“I can’t wait for the next chapter.”

Finally, the rare and valued, detailed critique:

“I was confused by this part.  I didn’t get where you were going with this or that.  My favorite part was such and such.”

From the rest, silence, leaving me to interpret its meaning.

You thought it stunk and don’t know how to say that without hurting my feelings.  Or you lost interest after the first sentence.

Silence leads to doubt and doubt has a way of coiling its slimy self in a dark corner of my brain, periodically raising its scaly head to hiss, spit or rattle its tail, lest I forget about it.  The longer this goes on the more agonizing it becomes.  

Do I really want to know that someone hated what I wrote?  Absolutely!  What I find out after probing is:

“I couldn’t find the file.”

“I couldn’t open the file.”

“I loved it, didn’t I tell you?”

“I was too busy to get to it.”

“I didn’t care for the story, but liked the other one you sent.”

So what does this mean?  Positive feedback is great, but just as important, is the other kind, it reveals something about your future audience.  You need a variety of test readers, including some lacking a keen interest in protecting your feelings, because assuming you publish your novel, readers who know very little or nothing about you will read your work, if you are lucky.

Readers of your published work will approach your story from a different perspective, bringing their own likeness into play, viewing it through their the lens of their history.  They will not concern themselves with what you think or how you feel; they expect you to fulfill their wants, needs and desires.  If you fail, will they be kind?

In the end, I gratefully take in to account all comments and then rely on my inner Editor and Critic, but sometimes, even she, tries to placate me.

Thank you for reading and keep writing!

Yet to come:  The Benefits of Insomnia; My First Writers Conference; Query Letter Hell! & The ABC’s…Author Websites, Blogging and Contests, Oh, My!

Maintaining Momentum

Thought for the week: We all spend time in the writing ditch; how you get out of it is up to you.

In the midst of writing and re-writing my first novel, “Seeing Scarlet”, a second novel materialized. Initially, I denied it time and energy due to WOCD, writer’s obsessive compulsion disorder, refusing to write novel number two, because novel number one was not yet complete.

However, this new character, Janice Morrison, would not go away. Every time I stalled out writing Scarlet’s story, Janice would tap on the back door of my brain.

“Hay, it’s me again, Janice. Got a second?”

“No, I’m busy. Come back later,” I grumbled.

“You still working on that book? Come, on! I’ve been waitin’ long enough here to tell you something. You won’t believe this one.”

Janice would just not hear me and I refused to listen because I was busy being stuck in the ‘writing ditch’, a place where you cannot move forward or backward, without digging yourself a deeper hole.

Frustrated anyway, I finally took a woefully needed break from Scarlet and tuned in to Janice. Before long, I had written twenty-five thousand words of her story. Now that number is nearly double. My second novel, “Secret Agent of…God?” is character driven, focused, true to the tale that I set out to write and is a narrative that technically told itself. The best part…it was fun to write again.

I learned something valuable from Janice. The protagonist sets the tone of the story and decides where it will ultimately go. In Scarlet’s case, I had tried to mold her into someone she had no interest in becoming. I became confused, thinking I was writing my story at times, but Scarlet is definitely not me.

I let Scarlet’s issues stew on the back burner for a bit and worked on Janice’s predicament and other projects, short stories and flash fiction for contests until one day, an answer to Scarlet’s problem presented itself.

While watching my eight-year-old outrunning ten and eleven-year-olds at her running camp, being fiercely competitive at all things, easily able to outsmart me with minimal effort, she was already so confident and different from me, at her age. I realized something, I gave her life and shared a few genes, but I can never take credit for how amazing she is, all on her own.

This triggered my ascent. I needed to accept Scarlet’s individuality as I have my daughters. As Scarlet’s creator, I owed her this much. When I began blending in this new perspective, a bright and more vivid character emerged.

Ask yourself if you have another tale to tell, at least temporarily. Write poetry, even badly, create a children’s book, draft a short story, pen an article about anthills. Meanwhile, let your character quandary simmer until a solution comes bubbling to the surface; when it does, simply stir in the spice you found before your ideas burn out or evaporate. At the very least, a fresh story will keep you company and give you something to chew on while you wait for a figurative tow truck to conjure a productive way out of the ‘writing ditch’.

Thank you for reading and keep writing!

Yet to come: Seeking Support: Surprises and Stumbling Blocks; The Benefits of Insomnia; My First Writers Conference; Query Letter Hell!; The ABC’s…Author Websites, Blogging and Contests, Oh, My!